Sunday, 17 June 2007


Today the locals celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Traralgon Marathon, the longest running in the whole of Australia. I decided to support it, however not through participation! My Dad and younger brother Matt were to run the full 42.195kms, and at 43 and 18 they were competing in their first marathon both on little training. My Dad (after missing the start) ran 4:10:51 and my brother 4:18:51, a long way from the world record of 2:04:55! But with an ETA of 5hours they were well ahead of schedule which had my Dad leaving my brother behind with 7kms to go! I was so proud of the both of them. After having ran a marathon at 14 years of age I could appreciate their efforts.

A marathon starts out as a ritual before your body goes into shock, followed by denial and isolation. Eating becomes a chore and as the pain increases, generally so does the walking. Blisters and swelling have you in tears at the thought of finishing the challenge that lies ahead. You near the finish and elation sets in, then finally renewal. As you round the final corner and see the finish line you pull yourself up straight and try not to limp. You hide the blood stains on your shirt and wipe the stale spit from your face. You’ll cross the finish line looking like a runner and not just any runner…a marathoner! Grateful that someone is there to place the finishers medallion around your neck as you don’t possess the energy to do it yourself, you fall into the arms of your loved ones and begin to plan your training for the next one! Then you return home to receive massages from your daughter/sister. Or so I was told...

Monday, 11 June 2007


After returning from China on Friday I couldn't wait to get home and have some PASTA!! I had almost forgotten how to cook. I had also forgotten what it was like to lay on a bed that didn't have similar attributes to a wooden plank... soo good to be home :) Then I prepared for the three days of racing to come in my local Gippsland Tour. I was doubting my late decision to race men’s A grade when the feeling of jet lag had my legs rolling over at a mere 25km/hr for a pre-race start on Saturday. But for me it was training and in the rain (in usual tour fashion), I fronted on the line. Saturday saw me puncture just 9kms in and then go on to finish with a slow leak that managed to get me to the line with the bunch. After losing a minute to the leaders in the 6km Time Trial the following morning, I finished again, comfortably in the peloton that afternoon.

Monday bought some more rain but after riding in 3degree temperatures the day before the light shower didn’t seem to phase me. Over the final climb the group split and with the two favourites turning onto a side ride just 200metres from the finish (what the??) I managed to run third. I thoroughly enjoyed my pub meal that followed and catching up with my local boys who I really missed over my previous racing block. I now look forward to a few easy days relaxing at home before catching up on some study later in the week. Maybe I’ll invest some time into those cheap DVD’s I scored in China…!

Results: Gippsland 3 Day Tour, Victoria

Friday, 8 June 2007


Jess and I woke covered in glitter with full stomachs. We had enjoyed our last night out wandering the streets of Chongming for the final time, almost sad to be leaving but eagerly waiting our return home. We reflected on the week while cruising in a rickshaw then spent our remaining money on a fruit sundae :P Although we had been told there were no markets in Shanghai, we were determined to find them anyway. Our first so called 'market' turned out to be an expensive shopping plaza. We demanded better! So after picking up the driver's daughter, with her shopping expertise, we headed to a place we could barter...

We got LOST!! This place was huge and everything was dirt cheap. Needless to say we all ran out of money and were forced to borrow from Bill :) had we had more than an hour to shop god knows what excess costs we may have returned home with! I had a budget, which I blew, then my camera went dead during sightseeing on the way to the airport. On arrival we discovered that our flight to Sydney was scheduled for a stop-over in Melbourne, putting us Viccy's 7hours ahead of schedule. Berry and I spent the first part of the flight swapping bought underwear while Kate was picking up some handsome man ;) All seemed so perfect until Berry had pork on the plane again :(

Wednesday, 6 June 2007


A ‘Chinese block’ is what results when 80 Chinese cyclists rally against the remaining 20. They place 70 riders across the width of the road at 30km/hr while the remnants ride off the front at 50km/hr. Yesterday mere pushing and yelling occurred, today crashes and spitting! For the third consecutive day we combined with the Dutch to lead a disorganised chase contending with the Chinese for the final time. The result however was foreseen and we all failed. We lost the yellow. We lost the teams. As a consolation prize we held onto the points, the only jersey the Chinese didn’t manage to obtain. What am amazing job by the team today. For 100kms the girls chased everything and I even managed some prime points along the way.

The final break went with 30kms of the tour to race and with 5 Chinese up the road we knew it was dangerous. We got the order from Bel and combined with the Dutch we chased our hearts out. I was assigned a race radio for the day and we were informed of time gaps on the road. The break was bought back from 52sec to 19 in the final 10kms, but 17 was all we could allow before losing the yellow. As it turned out we were unaware that the break had split with Li Meifang finishing a further 21sec up the road. It was hard not to be disappointed, but as our first tour together we decided to be proud. We walked with two stage wins and the points! Now that’s inspiring :) After skipping on hand washing we attended our farewell dinner, more disgusting seafood platters. We didn’t care, there was plenty of alcohol and Bill had bought dessert!

Results: Tour of Chong Ming Island, Stage 4, Chongdong, 100kms

Tuesday, 5 June 2007


Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, it just did! Despite the dirt ridden soaking jerseys that will take 30hours to dry, despite the two punctures that Skye-Lee faced and the time penalty that will occur, and despite the embarrassing crash that saw Lou deck herself while on the front…it was a perfect day! The team worked well on the road with Kate helping me to bring back the breaks required with ease. A bunch kick was to prevail but this time I got lost into the final corner. The guilt passed quickly though as I watched Bel take her second stage win!! I ran 7th with Kate finishing 18th, helping team ADT to retain the teams classification.

This was followed by presentation of champagne for Bel’s stage victory, GC and points. I visited Jess for the final time tonight as she will following on the road tomorrow in the team car. She seems a lot better and has been diagnosed with cholecystitis (inflammation of the gall balder). We are no longer one man down :)

Results: Tour of Chong Ming Island, Stage 3, Chongbei, 72.8 kms

Monday, 4 June 2007


What an exciting day! For Bel, her first International road victory. And for the team, a contributing factor to such success came hand in hand with the team's classification. I couldn’t have been happier if I had have taken the win myself, but in saying that I was ecstatic enough at running fifth! :) We were unsure of what to expect for our 71km road race, but the ‘Chinese block’ never came to mind! Vrienden van het Platteland held the GC, points and team's classification, responsibility was on their shoulders. I stayed close to Bel to keep her informed as having no radios meant that her final call was our team approach.

The Dutch train began with 1km remaining and those who were lucky enough to escape the grasp of the Chinese found themselves on it. With 400mtrs to go I went in chase of the three girls ahead with Bel on my wheel. As the Dutchy threw her hands in the air to celebrate, Bel threw to the line taking the win. Berry was forced to watch on in her hospital bed as the doctors continue to change their mind and have now taken her off antibiotics resorting back to problems with her gall bladder! Will it ever end? The worst for her is not knowing.

Results: Tour of Chong Ming Island, Stage 2, Chongxi, 70.8 kms

Sunday, 3 June 2007


The opening ceremony for the tour to come saw us front on the podium one man down. Berry remains in hospital and has been given antibiotics for spleen disorders. We were optimistic just the same for the 65km criterium around a flat 4km circuit. The crowds were absolutely huge as was the convoy following us. Bel managed to take some primes, placing her third GC after finishing fifth in the stage. Lou struggled as the attacks came fast with little recovery between; an average of 44km/hr.

Skye-Lee, 10th and myself, 7th did the majority of the work as Kate had been involved in an early crash which resulted in a 9 minute time penalty! After a hard day at the office we returned home to complete the standard routine. Lunch, hand washing and a nap before journeying to the hospital to liven Berry’s spirits. I ran some errands for her that afternoon and returned in the evening so we could watch the criterium highlights together. She’s one tough cookie.

Results: Tour of Chong Ming Island, Stage 1, Renshou Yatong Criterium, 65.6kms

Saturday, 2 June 2007


The first day of racing had arrived. After contending with downpours of rain all day yesterday we were hoping for prime race conditions. I wasn't keen on contemplating whether it was worth paying for my dirt ridden socks to be professionally cleaned at $2AU a pair, I don’t even think I paid that much for them! For the Tour of Chongming Island the Australian National Development Team comprised: Skye-Lee Armstrong - 20 - Nsw, Jessica Berry - 25 - Vic, Belinda Goss - 23 - Tas, Louise Kerr - 20 - Qld, Kate Mercer - 27 - Qld, Peta Mullens - 19 - Vic, Bill Clinch - Manager - Nsw, Liz Hepple - Coach - Qld, Paul Butler - Mechanic - Qld

Skye-Lee had chosen to skip on the hurt event and Berry was exhausted in hospital. Although not our best ever times, we were pleased with out efforts and grateful that Bel didn’t stop the clock ahead of me as she was the only one not decked out with bars and a rear disc! Jess spent the day in hospital undergoing some more tests in an attempt to find what is wrong. The doctors are leaning toward a problem with her gall bladder but are looking for a second opinion. We pray to god that she doesn’t have to undergo operations here in Chongming =(

Results: Tour of Chong Ming Island Time Trial, 20kms

Friday, 1 June 2007


Today we received our numbers before our first team meeting in preparation for the Time Trial tomorrow. Only four girls are to ride the course, a dead flat 20km loop that will see us contending with some strong winds. We were lucky enough (if that’s what you would call it) to enjoy a taxi ride around the course with our driver Mr Wu. He seemed like a jolly man but that didn't make driving through red lights at 100km/hr any less dangerous! Nor did it mean that we would allow him to light up a cigarette while in our company! However, we did allow him talk time on his mobile and a short stopover to re-fuel on food before dropping us back at the accommodation.

After some efforts in the rain, returning to lunch and completing my arduous hand washing, I strolled down the street with Kate, Lou and Berry. My first buy was a bag at $8AU, followed by a cookie at the bakery (pictured), which was across the road from the cute little bike shop (pictured). Then, while Berry was discretely being called a prostitute by some shop owners I bought a (now lucky) piggy necklace (despite the fact I was born in the year of the Dragon).

Kate and I may prove a little unprepared for racing tomorrow due to consuming about 4 pieces of beef at our welcoming dinner. As the only two available females in the team we have been titled ‘the singles’ and seem to be struggling to adapt to the provided food. Instead, we made our way down the street to invest in 20cent ice-creams. The dinner was perfect for 'Team ADT' bonding, it may be our last chance with Berry. Berry is not adapting at all. After consuming some wrong looking pork on the plane she has been admitted to hospital and placed on an IV drip. Tests are being performed as we speak and I will endeavour to report back as soon as the doctors have diagnosed her. We all send our best wishes! =)